Director: Jon M Chu
Writer: Quiara Alegria Hudes (Screenplay) Quiara Alegria Hudes, Lin-Manuel Miranda (Musical)
Starring: Anthony Ramos, Melissa Barrera, Leslie Grace, Corey Hawkins, Olga Merediz, Jimmy Smits
Plot: A film version of the Broadway musical in which Usnavi, a sympathetic New York bodega owner, saves every penny every day as he imagines and sings about a better life.
Tagline – Turn Up the Volume on Your Dreams
Runtime: 2 Hours 23 Minutes
There may be spoilers in the rest of the review
Story: In the Heights starts as we meet a bodega owner Usnavi (Ramos) who is a member of the Washington heights neighbourhood, where he knows everybody and dreams of a better life away back in the Dominican Republic. Nina Rosario (Grace) who is like a sister to Usnavi is also looking for a better life, one she has spent her whole life working towards, while Vanessa (Barrera) wants to follow her dream to move Downtown near the fashion district and Benny (Hawkins) who has been building his reputation in the area, where he is completely comfortable in.
The four find themselves at different crossroads in their lives, ones which will redefine their futures, be it together or alone, with music guiding them through their struggles, until the Blackout, which will change everything for them all.
Thoughts on In the Heights
Characters & Performances – Usnavi is telling the story of the summer in the heights to a group of children, he runs the bodega and dreams of returning home to the Dominican Republic, he is a confident man until Vanessa comes into his store, the woman of his dreams, the one person that could see him stay. Anthony Ramos is the first of many brilliant performances in this film. Vanessa works in beauty salon where she is dreams of her own life in a better neighbourhood, one where she could find herself walking into a fashion job, with her dreams looking dashed, she will find herself needing to regain her confidence after believing she might never leave the heights. Melissa Barrera gives us one of the star making performances in this film. Nina Rosario is like a little sister to Usnavi, her father has always worked to make sure she had a better future, something she has also worked hard on, only when it comes to her time to make the big decision on the next step, she finds herself stuck unsure of what to do next. Benny works for Nina’s father in dispatch, he is the most popular member of the team, he is the best friend to Usnavi and Nina’s love interest, while the pair do take the back burner to Usnavi and Vanessa, the pair do get the most unique and memorable dance routine. Leslie Grace and Corey Hawkins are both wonderful in the supporting roles too, with the whole cast being great to watch throughout the film.
Story – The story here follows four people who have different dreams that are all from the same neighbourhood, Washington Heights, where everyone works together to build the community as they will all need to make difficult decisions on what is next in their lives. This is a story that is filled with magic, that takes real life situations to show us just how difficult life decisions can become when they will see a major change coming to the people involved. The story will continue to give us the will they won’t they with both stories and will show us just how the decisions being made could well change everything for them. The story might be slightly longer than it needs to be, but otherwise a truly enjoyable story.
Themes – In the Heights is a musical that is filled with catchy musical numbers, rhythmic dance routines and a heart that shows life in one of the districts in New York City, Washington Heights, which is the key part of the settings that will help us understand what the film is all about.
Final Thoughts – In the Heights is what dreams are all about, knowing what is important to chance through a life we only get one outing in.